Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Greying Weavers, Young Weavers

Yesterday Mizz B came and helped Doug unload the van, then she helped me sort through the spinning fibres so I could take an inventory. Today sometime I will be updating my website with the actual numbers of what is available. After dinner Doug and I took the stack of bins and boxes to the annex to get them off the new floor in the living room. :) (Yes that's a handwoven throw protecting the floor - it's now a packing blanket because it's got threadbare spots in it from being used.)
I also had a visit from someone 'local' who has mohair goats. She is trying to sell her fibres so I bought some to re-sell. Unfortunately I may have to get my web master to create a new page on my website to list those for sale. :}
Today has been a quiet day after the flurry of activity the past week. As I mentioned in an earlier post I haven't been feeling well and await an appointment tomorrow in hopes of having a date for a medical test and procedure if it is deemed necessary.
I have been thinking a lot about the 'greying of the guilds' given my own personal journey the past couple of years and that of friends who are also entering a time in their lives when bodies seem to start breaking down - much sooner than anyone ever anticipated. :(
When I decided to become a weaver at the tender age of 24 I resented the stereotype of all weavers being 'little old ladies in running shoes.' Now I are one. Truly. I turn 60 this year - remember when 60 seemed absolutely ancient????
During the conference I spent some time visiting with weavers I've gotten to know over the years and talked about aches and pains and lack of energy. One of the other vendors had just had surgery to correct a problem - literally. Her husband had picked her up from the hospital and brought her to the hall for set up. Another vender has had back problems for years and lots of surgeries. We all limped and struggled through the weekend, me feeling very tired and old. :(
A number of weavers expressed concern about their age and the size of their stashes - what would happen to all their textile toys when they could no longer weave?
But then - oh then - on Saturday came a trickle of young people. Young women and a few young men - in their 20's - excited by the display of yarns and fibres. Some of them were knitters, some felters, some spinners, and some weavers. One young couple in particular were a delight - he interested in weaving, she in spinning and knitting.
By the end of the weekend I was feeling much more hopeful about the future of the craft.
Perhaps it is because there is an active provincial guild in Alberta, perhaps because there is a textile program run through Olds College where they have a Fibre Week every year.
Whatever the cause there seem to be a growing number of young people coming along with a bright shine in their eyes, and a thirst for knowledge about textiles.
On my own home front there is Mizz B. Even though she moves back 'home' at the end of the month we are hoping to keep her learning. I suggested she download the test levels from the Guild of Canadian Weavers (http://thegcw.org) and we use those as a long distance learning guide. Then when she can make it here to visit family she can come for evaluation of what she has done as 'homework'.
I'm looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes.
Currently reading Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris


Jessica said...

Thanks for the reference to the GCW test booklet! I had seen it before, but this time I printed it out and am beginning to draw up plans to work through it.

Sandra Rude said...

I'll be thinking of you tomorrow, and sending good wishes to the health gods on your behalf!

Nancy C said...

At the risk of sounding morbid, your comment about "what happens to our stashes," prompts a share. I have always admired the work of Berea College where all students participate in crafts production to support the school and pay their way, so I have my will leaving them all my weaving equipment and supplies, with the exception that a favourite kid gets to take her pick of whatever she wants for her personal use. I would recommend looking into a school or community centre that would bless you forever for remembering them. Whatever we have left around our studios would be so appreciated by groups like that.

Benita said...

Our guild, SWIFT, is actively working on gathering young people into the fiber arts. In fact, our Chairman is only 30 years old, and she has brought a breath of fresh air to the place. There are some of the older ones who resent her modernizing the guild (especially taking the old-fashioned, print newsletter to the web), but the young people we have had join recently bodes well for us.

Also, my weaving workshops are gsthering in young people, too, and that is good! My next class has a 20-something as a student and, from her emails, she is thrilled to be learning how to weave.

We all found our way to what we do, and quite a few of us as young people. I think new "young people" will find their way as well. And we can pass our tools and stashes on to them to play with and teach the generation after them to play with fiber and yarn, too.

Sharon said...

These are shared considerations. A good friend used to joke about purchases from dead weavers sales, but it's getting closer to home these days. The fence is the cost of a loom. How to cross that??